Opinion | Heather Heyer and the price of justice

Today, I can write that Heather’s Heyer’s assailant, James Field Jr., is a murderer.  Many had thought it, people had tweeted it, but now it’s official. At age 21, he will be sentenced as any murderer should.

In Trump’s long tunnel of madness, Charlottesville is but a speck in the rearview mirror. But many will recall the incident—the pain, the anger, the sudden sense of helplessness and loss that will not soon be forgotten. Still, some may argue that as Canadian living thousands of miles away, I’m on the fringe. No, I didn’t know Heather Heyer, but both our nations appreciate the stand she took, and the ultimate price that she paid.

Many will remember the ensuing outrage as both countries collectively cried foul when Trump failed to recognize the inherent racism of the incident, and his infamous statement, “I think there is blame on both sides.” Now a year and a half later, what passes for justice has been served. Friday’s jury verdict pierced the lies and the bald assertions by Heather Heyer’s killer who defended his actions saying that fear for his life spurred his decision to drive his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer, a young woman who was scared to protest, but showed up anyway. Again, I repeat, Heather Heyer showed up anyway.

By stark contrast, the president of the United States, the most powerful man on earth, lacked the courage to speak the truth about that day for fear of compromising his voter base. On that day, the president ran away.

Twenty-one-years old is young in my eyes, but make no mistake, Field Jr. knew what he was doing. He was well aware of the absolute contempt he held for those who railed against his white supremacist agenda. His abject hatred became the one thing that managed to silence the 32-year-old counter-protester. In that moment, time stopped for Heather Heyer. Her voice never be heard again. Her friends and family never to see her again. No more birthdays, no more Christmases, no more sunsets or moonrises—the ethereal gifts of the living. The same gifts that will soon be taken from her murderer.

Referring to his victim, Field Jr. had once said to his mother, “It doesn’t fucking matter,” .

Perhaps one day he may reflect upon the depth of his rage, and racism understanding that he, ironically, is now part of a minority of people who hate, and that his actions affect millions of lives, including his own.


k.g. Sambrano is a Canadian writer known for his works of literary fiction and poetry, and is an occasional freelance political writer. His latest book, Trump- the First 365 Days: America’s Fight for America was released on February 20, 2018.

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